10 things we love about Austrian cuisine
Hubert Zanier owner of Austrian restaurant and patisserie, Kipferl, shares what he loves about the food of Austria
Want to learn more about Austrian cuisine? Looking for Austrian dishes to try? Read our guide below then check out our guide to best internal routes for food lovers.
Hubert Zanier was born in a small Austrian town in the Tyrol province. A banking career brought him to London, where he now owns and runs Austrian restaurant and patisserie, Kipferl.
Kipferl, named after the half-moon shaped Austrian shortbread, offers anything from the classic wiener schnitzel and käsespätzle to sachertorte. Diners can sip various types of grüner veltliner in the cosy, chalet-like location in Islington, north London. They also have an online shop that delivers cakes, wines and more all over the UK. kipferl.co.uk, @kipferl_london
The most famous Austrian cake with the two characteristic layers of apricot jam and a thick chocolate icing. This cake is a firm favourite in its hometown of Vienna but equally popular outside of Austria. Created for Prince Metternich by the young Franz Sacher in 1832, the prince wanted a special dessert for his guests – the rest is history.
2. Wiener schnitzel
The national dish of Austria comes from the old German word for ‘slice’ and was invented in Vienna in the 18th century. Traditionally made with a thin slice of veal (by law in Austria this is called ‘wiener schnitzel’; if made with pork or chicken it is called ‘schnitzel wiener art’), coated in flour, eggs and breadcrumbs. Check out Hubert's wiener schnitzel recipe here.
An integral part of an Austrian lifestyle, these are usually eaten as a snack or on the go from a würstelstand or sausage stands found anywhere in Austria. No boozy late night out in Vienna is complete without a käsekrainer (a thick bratwurst-style sausage filled with emmental cubes) and a can of Austrian beer enjoyed at 2am. Don’t forget the typical Austrian tarragon mustard and freshly ground horseradish. The sausages we serve at Kipferl are made in London following Austrian recipes and are freshly made every week.
A generic term for a savoury or sweet dish, usually in a round shape, and eaten as a main, side dish or dessert. Most of them are flour- or bread-based, with the most popular being spinatknödel (with fresh spinach), semmelknödel (eaten as a side) and marillenknödel (a sweet apricot dumpling made with a fresh cheese dough). Growing up in the mountains, knödel were a staple on our menu, and the ones we serve at Kipferl are made using my grandmother’s recipe.
5. Austrian wine
A huge success story in the past 20 years, Austrian wine can be found in high-end restaurants and shops all over the world. The climate gives the wines an unrivalled balance between sugar and acidity (phenolic balance), and, despite the relatively small quantities produced, the quality has convinced many wine lovers of its greatness. Indigenous grapes such as grüner veltliner, gelber muskateller, zweigelt and blaufränkisch, represent the majority of the wines but Austria also produces great sauvignon blanc, pinot gris and merlot.
No Austrian meal is complete without a soup to start. Most typically have a strong beef broth, made with lots of meat, bones and vegetables, and a filling of either sliced pancakes (frittatensuppe), fried cheese dumplings (kaspressknödelsuppe) or noodles. Any of these are an ideal starter to an Austrian dinner.
Definitely the second most popular Austrian cake, this puff pastry with apple, raisins and almond filling – so juicy and spicy – is pure 18th-century Viennese indulgence. The old Viennese recipe we use says that the dough has to be rolled so thin that you can read a newspaper through it. In Austria it is served cold with whipped cream or ice cream, whereas our German neighbours love it warm, served with vanilla sauce.
8. Hearty breakfasts
If you’re a farmer in the Austrian Alps, you’ll know it’s a tough and physically demanding job. Before going on the steep mountain fields you’ll need a rich and substantial meal: home baked bread, speck (cured meat), mountain cheese or an omelette with potatoes provide the calories necessary to get the work done.
Translated as ‘emperor’s medley’, kaiserschmarrn is a thick, shredded pancake with almonds and raisins, flambéed with Austrian rum and served with homemade apple or plum compote. Traditionally made and served in a large pan, it’s the perfect dessert to share in a group, whether in a chalet or fine restaurant.
Vienna’s tradition of the coffeehouse is well known and, since the days when Turkish traders first brought coffee to Vienna, it has been an integral part of society. There are still many traditional kaffeehäuser in Austria where you can enjoy your coffee and read a newspaper, with coffee specialities such as melange (a small latte), kleiner brauner (a bit more than a macchiato) or an einspänner (espresso with lots of whipped cream).
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